Government has directed all public institutions to seek approval from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for their annual procurement plans to ensure efficient financial management.
It has also directed the Auditor-General to conduct annual audits of all procurement activities of public entities in accordance with the Public Procurement Act (Act 663), Professor Newman Kwadwo Kusi, Acting Chief Director of MoFEP, stated in Accra on Tuesday.
Speaking at a day’s capacity building workshop for heads of governance institutions, including Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Directors of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) on the Public Procurement Act (PPA), Prof. Kusi urged the MDAs to adhere to prudent public expenditure management systems.
He said past financial experiences of the country and the current economic challenges demanded adherence to an effective procurement system, which the government considered as critical for efficient economic administration.
The Act seeks to regulate and ensure that public procurement is carried out in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.
It also seeks to create the enabling environment for the local business community to become competitive and efficient suppliers to the public sector.
The Act applies to the procurement of goods, works and services, financed in whole or in part from public funds except when the Minister of Finance decides that it is in the national interest to use a different procedure.
Prof Kusi however expressed concern that about four years after the passage of the PPA there were still no thorough mechanism for scrutiny of public procurement plans and no systematic quality control apparatus. Therefore the comprehensives of the procurement plans cannot be established.
He said procurement plans that should link spending activities and budget provisions were either non-existent or where they existed they were characterised by a number of deficiencies.
Prof. Kusi accused some government institutions of taking advantage of the deficiencies in the law to procure goods and services for which budget provision did not exist.
“Many other governmental institutions have refused to review their procurement plans on quarterly basis to take account of in-year budgetary pressures and adjustments,” he said.
The Acting Director of Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning also found fault with the current legal and institutional framework for public procurement.
“There are issues with some of the procurement procedures and practices that impact negatively on contract management and value for money,” he said.
Prof. Kusi also identified the problem of fronting, capacity constraints of PPA officials, inconsistency in the application of some procurement policies, corruption and interference as other major challenges hindering the operation of the public procurement system.
Commodore Steve Obimpeh (Rtd), Chairman of the PPA Governing Board, acknowledged the daunting implementation challenges, which had created capacity gaps leading to gross misunderstanding and abuse of the provisions.
He tasked the respective ministers to attain the requisite skills on the PPA in order to engage the process and make good savings for government.